Law School Case Brief
Lawrence v. Lawrence - 839 So.2d 1201
Former La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 9:306 (now La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 9:372) does not specify or limit the duration of the injunction prohibiting physical or sexual abuse of a "petitioning spouse." La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 9:372 however, clearly treats such an injunction as incidental to the filing of the separation or divorce action by a petitioning spouse.
Before plaintiff husband and defendant wife were divorced, they were both served with temporary restraining orders prohibiting contact with the other party. After the divorce, both parties filed a rule for contempt and for injunctive relief. The Fifteenth Judicial District, Parish of Lafayette (Louisiana), denied the husband's rule for contempt, but granted the wife's, finding that the husband harassed the wife. The husband appealed.
At the hearing, in addition to its finding on harassment, the trial court executed a judgment ordering that a permanent injunction be issued under La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 9:372. The husband argued it was an error of law for the trial court to grant a permanent injunction pursuant to La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 9:372, because the parties had been divorced for over three years at the time it was issued.
Did the trial court erred in granting the wife a permanent injunction, some three years after the divorce, when the decree was silent as to any injunctions?
The appellate court agreed with the husband, noting that La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 9:372 clearly treated such an injunction as incidental to the filing of the separation or divorce action by a petitioning spouse. Citing precedent applicable to the instant case, the appellate court concluded that, because the injunction was not mentioned in either the separation or divorce judgment, it was extinguished by law. The appellate court held that the legislature intended that the injunctive relief provided for in § 9:372 had to be instituted by the victim-spouse during the pendency of the divorce proceedings. Thus, the trial court erred in granting the wife a permanent injunction under § 9:372, some three years after the divorce, when the decree was silent as to any injunctions.
The ruling of the trial court was reversed. Costs of this appeal were assessed equally between the parties.
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